Great science fiction can widen our horizons, and challenge our assumptions about space, time, and humanity. Movies in particular allow the wonder and imagination of sci-fi storytelling to take flight. By combining dynamic, breathtaking visuals with imaginative storylines, science fiction films can be truly transportive—even if you're just streaming at home from the comfort of your couch.
Check out our recommendations below for 23 of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix right now. From the horrific to the heartwarming, these sci-fi flicks dare to reimagine life as we know it, and feature everything from old-school classics to recent blockbusters. Grab some popcorn and get ready for adventure: These are the movies you need to stream this month.
This post will be updated periodically to reflect changes to streaming.
V for Vendetta
Based on Alan Moore and David Lloyd's DC Comics Vertigo series, this 2005 movie is set in a near-future dystopia where political dissent is deadly. Genocide and plague are a constant threat. Enter the mysterious V (played by Hugo Weaving) a rebel in a Guy Fawkes mask who isn't afraid to use violent tactics against his oppressors. When V rescues Evey (Natalie Portman) from being picked up by the secret police, she becomes embroiled in his radical plot to incite revolt among the London populace by Guy Fawkes day. Directed by the Wachowski Sisters, V for Vendetta is one movie you'll be sure to remember, remember on the fifth of November.
Shaun of the Dead
The first movie in Simon Pegg's trilogy of delightful standalone movies, The Cornetto Trilogy, Shaun of the Dead feels as fresh and funny now as it did when it first came out 14 years ago. Shaun (Pegg) is an unambitious Londoner content to spend his days drinking at the Winchester with his best friend and roommate, Ed (Nick Frost). When Shaun's girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) has had enough of his complacency and dumps him, Shaun is devastated. So devastated, in fact, that when the zombie apocalypse overwhelms London, he and his roommate Ed barely notice. Once they do, Shaun and Ed concoct a plan to rescue Shaun's mother and Liz, and head to the Winchester to wait for the whole thing to blow over.
Children of Men
Director Alfonso Cuarón (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Gravity) brought his talents to this incredible adaptation of P.D. James' dystopian novel of the same name. The grim movie is set in the United Kingdom in 2027, 18 years after the start of worldwide infertility. Theo (Clive Owen), a jaded former activist, is kidnapped by an immigrant rights group and tasked with acquiring papers for Kee, a young immigrant. Kee, Theo, and a small convoy of activists head towards Canterbury. When violence descends on their small party, Kee admits to Theo that she is, incredibly, pregnant — and that she has been warned to trust only him. Theo and Kee must do everything they can as the last vestiges of society rapidly disintegrate around them to keep Kee — and her miraculous child — alive.
The first in the Cloverfield anthology films, J.J. Abrams' 2008 Cloverfield is genuinely chilling. One of the most successful additions to the found footage horror genre, it uses video from the goodbye party for Rob Hawkins (Michel Stahl-David) to reveal in 'real time' the destruction of the area formerly known as New York. Rob is planning to leave the city for Japan, but his bon voyage festivities are rudely interrupted when an immense creatures descends on the city and begins crumbling buildings and popping the heads off of iconic landmarks. While his friends attempt to leave the island, Rob decides to make a perilous journey uptown to rescue his girlfriend Beth (Odette Annable) from the ruined building she's trapped in.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
This 2005 adaptation of Douglas Adams' sci-fi book series fails to totally capture the charm of the source material. But don't panic! It's still a fun watch that is a great introduction to the Hitchhiker's Guide universe for anyone who's not yet familiar with the genius of the late sci-fi author.
The movie follows Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman). On the day Earth is destroyed, Arthur is narrowly rescued from certain death by his friend Ford (Mos Def). Ford, it turns out, is an alien reported who was living undercover on Earth while writing a guide to galactic hitchhiking. Now that Earth has been destroyed by the Vogons, Martin and fellow Earthling Trillian (Zooey Deschanel) must rely on Ford's teachings — and their trusty towels — to survive.
Wakanda forever! Following the sudden death of his father, King T'Chaka, Prince T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns home to lead the African country of Wakanda. But his ascent to the throne is threatened by a brutal usurper: soldier Erik Stevens, known by the sinister name of Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan).
Killmonger wants to share Wakanda's secret technology with African people throughout the world. Although he makes compelling arguments against Wakanda's isolationism, Killmonger is indiscriminately violent in the name of his cause, and threatens to topple Wakanda in his quest to liberate.
This Marvel movie boasts an absolutely all-star cast, including Lupita Nyong'o, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, and Forest Whitaker. Stream it tonight and see why this tour-de-force was such a record-smashing success.
This cult classic combines hard sci-fi with existential horror, and the result is truly unforgettable. The year is 2035. Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is in the home stretch of a three-year solitary mining job on the dark side of the Moon, funded by Lunar Industries. Communication with Earth is spotty, and Sam is eager to return home to his wife and daughter and finally have some company besides GERTY, the lunar base's artificial intelligence (voiced by Kevin Spacey). But as the end of Sam's mission approaches, he begins to hallucinate, which leads him to injure himself in a lunar rover crash. When Sam regains consciousness, he's back inside the base, and GERTY advises him to await a rescue mission. Sam is suspicious, and begins to uncover truths about Lunar Industries that are truly unsettling.
Although certainly more of a horror movie than a sci-fi film, there's still a lot in this classic Kubrick adaptation of Stephen King's The Shining to interest SFF fans. (And, as fans of Stephen King's The Dark Tower books know, The Overlook and Danny Torrance are directly connected to the science fantasy universes explored in that series.) If you're craving a spooky October watch, consider this story of a down-on-his-luck alcoholic writer (Jack Nicholson) who takes his wife and extraordinarily gifted son with him during his winter caretaker job at a spooky Colorado town. Stephen King famously dislikes Kubrick's take on his story, but that doesn't mean you will.
The Last Jedi
The most recent — and controversial — installment in the Star Wars episodic films, The Last Jedi is a gorgeous, gripping addition to the Skywalker saga.
As Rey (Daisy Ridley) begins her Jedi training on the isolated planet of Ahch-To under the unwilling eye of a disillusioned Luke (Mark Hamill), the movie challenges the tropes Star Wars fans have come to expect from the galaxy far, far away. In doing so, director Rian Johnson opens up a new universe of possibilities about what the Force can be, and who gets to wield it.
If, to paraphrase Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), you can let some of your preconceived notions about Star Wars go, The Last Jedi is a breathtaking and groundbreaking ride — and it features possibly the greatest fight scene in the history of the franchise.
This Marvel movie is part sci-fi, part fantasy, and all fun. Director Taika Waititi — also known for his work on comedy projects like Flight of the Conchords and What We Do in the Shadows — breathes new life into the God of Thunder with this irreverent, colorful addition to the MCU.
After the death of Odin (Anthony Hopkins), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and his villainous brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) must face down their older sister Hela (a stunning Cate Blanchett) to prevent Asgard from total ruin. Tessa Thompson steals the show as Valkyrie, a former Asgardian warrior who now captures slaves for the Grandmaster of Sakaar (Jeff Goldblum) to fund her drinking.
A Netflix original, this Australian zombie movie is a smart addition to the genre that will thrill fans of The Girl With All the Gifts or Train to Busan. Andy (Martin Freeman) and his wife are attempting to outrun a zombie pandemic via boat. But when disaster strikes, Andy must make a grueling, days-long trek across the outback in order to bring his infant daughter to safety. Andy's odyssey coincides with the journey of Thoomi (Simond Landers), an aboriginal tribe member whose father has recently been infected.
To say much more about the plot risks spoiling some of Cargo's appeal. Suffice to say, if you're a fan of zombie movies that delve into the emotional weight of an outbreak, you'll love this tense, unique addition to the genre.
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This Academy Award-winning epic 2005 remake of the 1933 classic will satisfy all your cravings for giant creature action. Set in 1933, the Peter Jackson-directed film follows an expedition to Skull Island in the South Pacific. The voyage returns to America with a giant gorilla named Kong in tow. But when "the Eighth Wonder of the World" is introduced to New York City, actress Ann Darrow and playwright Jack Driscoll will have to reconsider what it truly means to be a monster.
Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy, The Road follows an unnamed man (Viggo Mortensen) and his unnamed son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) as they struggle to survive in post-apocalyptic America. The boy was born shortly after an unspecified event brought civilization to its knees. After the boy's mother disappeared, the boy and his father only had each other. Together, they travel across the bleak landscape, evading other survivors and scavenging in ruins for food.
This compelling movie is set in a dystopian world in which single people must find a partner within a 45-day window, or else be turned into an animal of their choosing. David (Colin Farrell) is newly divorced. After the breakup, he is sent to a decadent hotel by the sea, and begins his hunt for a new mate. Single people are taught to seek out partners with whom they have something in common, such as a physical trait like a limp. Should he fail in his search, David — whose brother has already been turned into a dog — will be transformed into a lobster. In between desperately searching for a new partner, guests at the hotel also have the option of recreationally hunting the single people who live in the woods behind the hotel. In a race against time, David — who is shortsighted— attempts to forge a relationship with a shortsighted woman (Rachel Weisz).
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, Rogue One follows a ragtag group of rebels as they join forces to stop the construction of the destructive Death Star. The epic space opera was critically praised for its acting, writing, and special effects, and its messages about resistance and hope make this one of the franchise’s best showings.
Heralded by critics as Netflix’s first great film and from the mind of Snowpiercer’s Joon-ho Bong, this emotionally wrenching drama doubles as an environmental morality tale. Okja is a thoughtful, visually awing, and perpetually relevant criticism of our food systems that’s delivered through a relationship between genetically modified pig Okja and her young owner. Forewarning: watching will probably make you experience every emotion ever.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Steven Spielberg's Academy Award-winning 1977 film about alien encounters is back on Netflix — luckily for all of us. A relatively optimistic look at extraterrestrial visitation, Close Encounters of the Third Kind follows father Roy Neary, who becomes obsessed with UFOs after being burned by a low-flying, mysterious object during his shift as an electrical lineman. Around the same time, single mother Jillian Guiler and her young son experience a terrifying encounter with a mysterious force in their home. As Roy and Jillian are overwhelmed by the psychological after-effects of their encounters, the United Nations investigates the increase in strange phenomena like that experienced by Roy and Jillian. Soon, it becomes clear that the two are part of a massive event that's more important than them, or our species, alone.
The Truman Show
This surprisingly haunting movie stars Jim Carrey as everyman Truman Burbank, who enjoys an idyllic existence in the town of Seahaven Island. But when Truman begins to find clues everywhere that his life in Seahaven may not be as simple as it seems, the truth comes out: Truman is actually the unwitting star of a 24-hour reality television program that is broadcast around the globe. The entirety of his 30 years of life have been orchestrated to make him a compelling and captive subject for TV, and escaping his role as reality star may cost Truman his life.
A Netflix original from Moon director Duncan Jones, Mute is a cyberpunk mystery set in future Berlin. Alexander Skarsgard stars as Leo, a bartender whose throat was damaged in a childhood accident. Leo is intent on finding Naadirah (Seyneb Saleh), his missing partner, and he'll comb through as much of the seedy underbelly of the high-tech city as he needs to do so.
Jones has described Mute as a "spiritual successor" to Moon, but unfortunately the new film isn't as smart or emotionally affecting as its predecessor. Still, it's worth a watch if only for the undeniably impressive, Blade Runner-reminiscent visuals.
The Iron Giant
A mix of traditional and computer animation, The Iron Giant became an instant hit when it landed in theaters during the summer of 1999. It’s not hard to see why. Based on the touching Ted Hughes 1968 novel The Iron Man, this Cold-War story follows the friendship between a young boy and a massive iron giant that falls from space.
Is Aeon Flux a 'good' movie, in the traditional sense of the word? Sadly, no. But if you're in the mood for sci-fi that's silly but flashy, it's worth watching if only to remember that Charlize Theron showed everyone she could kick butt long before she played a deadly spy in 2017's Atomic Blonde.
Based on an animated TV series from the early '90s, Aeon Flux is set in 2145. In 2011, a plague eradicated much of humanity; the survivors live in Bregna, a city-state governed by scientists. Theron stars as Æon Flux, a member of the Monicans, a group of telepathically linked rebels ostensibly working to bring down Bregna's leaders.
It's a pity the movie doesn't have more to offer, given the talent of its star and its director, Karyn Kusama (Girl Fight, Jennifer's Body, The Invitation). But if you want an evening of stupid sci-fi fun, a visit to Bregna might be just what the dystopian doctor ordered.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
The Guardians of the Galaxy are back, and they're bigger a-holes than ever. In this sequel to 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy, families reunite, with cataclysmic consequences. Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) finally meets his father, but the reunion is stranger than he could have anticipated. Meanwhile, the feud between Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) comes to a violent head.
Deep Blue Sea
Deep Blue Sea might not be cinema at its most refined, but it's still as fun as it was when this sci-fi thriller first hit theaters in 1999.
A team of scientists searching for an Alzheimer's cure have been experimenting on Mako sharks at an underwater laboratory. But when one of the test subject sharks kills a researcher, Dr. Susan Susan McAlester (Saffron Burrows) admits to increasing the size of the sharks' brains in order to harvest more valuable proteins from the test subjects. As the underwater station begins to flood, the scientists must face monsters of their own creation: super-smart sharks with a taste for vengeance.
If you're craving a night of hard sci-fi and compelling filmmaking, this might not be the best pick. But for a fun night in, Deep Blue Sea is just the right amount of ridiculous.